Before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became a recall target for his efforts to reform collective bargaining in his state, I was a guest on a Madison radio show discussing the influence of public-sector unions and the significance of the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.
Instead of “Wisconsin Nice”—the reference to the polite, conflict-avoiding nature of Badger State culture—I faced a torrent of angry callers who accused union critics of trying to destroy the quality of life for working people. I asked one caller: What do we do about unfunded liabilities, those debts that current pension promises place on future generations? “I won’t answer your question,” he said, refusing to dignify this perfectly reasonable question with a response.
The radio show was a preview of what was to come in Wisconsin—a season of angry diatribes, militant union marches, not-so-nice attacks on a governor who, after all, has done nothing more than reform a debt-laden system and has actually saved union jobs and saved unions. Rather than engage the issues, the left has chosen to echo the approach taken by callers to that radio show—stomp their feet, yell, and scream and absolutely, positively refuse to provide an alternative path.
There’s something bizarre in all this, a reminder that the once-proud movement of working people has morphed into an upper-middle-class movement of coddled public employees who do not care about debt levels and eroded public services. They have their gold-plated pensions and no one better touch them or else.
CONTINUED at Reason. Written by Steven Greenhut.